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paulgoatallen
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Female Characters in Dracula

Numerous readers have mentioned the roles of female characters in Dracula. In what ways do you think Wilhemina Harker and Lucy Westenra are similar and/or different? What characteristics or character flaws made these women ripe for Dracula's wiles?
Paul
"There never can be a man so lost as one who is lost in the vast and intricate corridors of his own lonely mind, where none may reach and none may save..." – Isaac Asimov, Pebble in the Sky
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PatienceP
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Re: Female Characters in Dracula

Mina Harker and Lucy Westenra are both lovely women who are loved and considered good by all the other good characters when they are themselves. They both have found a man they'd like to marry, though only Mina carries through with it. They both are nurturing, wanting to protect those more fragile than themselves. And both of them go through some strange symptoms after Count Dracula sinks his teeth into them.
Lucy is gentle and proper, and even those she rejects still love her deeply. Mina is somewhat more aggressive, though not so much as to undermine her femininity. She's a good wife; she just didn't want to wait for Jonathan to be declared sane before marrying him.
Lucy becomes a target of Count Dracula when, having sat with Mina near the grave of a suicide, she sleepwalks to the place when Dracula is in the area. He takes his time with her. At no point in her life does she actually know what exactly is going on, though near the end she gets a vague idea. Even after Dr. Van Helsing enters the picture, various failures of communication prevent him and Dr. Seward from saving her life--and she has the bad luck to fall asleep just before she dies, which turns her into an all-out vampire.
Lucy-as-vampire is not considered the same person as Lucy-as-live-human by the other characters.
Dracula goes after Mina because she's not only female (he's a heterosexual vampire) but Jonathan Harker's beloved and one of those swearing to kill him. He knows he's being hunted and wants to counter-attack. He gets at her when Renfield finally lets him into Dr. Seward's home/insane-asylum. He goes after her quickly, and chooses to make Mina a thrall of his by vampire baptism instead of simply killing her. She keeps her will and goodness most of the time after that, but that conduit that lets her read Dracula's mind probably lets him read hers.
* * * * *

Sadness isn't sadness
It's happiness
In a black jacket

--Paul McCartney
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PatienceP
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Mina

I like Mina; even if she's not a "New Woman" and makes fun of those who are, she is intelligent and proactive. It seems that, once info is known by the other heroes, no one can hide it from her for long without her consent--especially after Lucy dies. And it's really amusing how she and Jonathan are protective of each other. ("Try not to tell Mina--she's of the fairer sex!" "I mustn't let Jonathan know, not so soon after that nervous breakdown he had!") These two are very much in love.)
Also, her skills are important for spreading info among the whole gang of vampire hunters and, incidentally, preserving all the documents that make up this novel--she types copies of everything, in triplicate, before Dracula gets into Dr. Seward's pad.
I have some cognitive dissonance about what, exactly, Dracula did to her that last time he got at her. The modern vampire fiction I've read suggested that the "vampiric baptism" simply makes the victim a vampire right then--which clearly is not what should be happening here. Mina cannot be a vampire: vampires are Evil, and she is not. But I have trouble accepting that a human, even one in light thrall to Dracula, can have that violent a reaction to communion wafers--not when Lucy Westenra was able to handle anti-vampire measures right up until she died!
* * * * *

Sadness isn't sadness
It's happiness
In a black jacket

--Paul McCartney
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paulgoatallen
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Re: Mina

This may be kind of scholarly for this thread but there is an excellent link from the University of Saskatchewan about Christian myth and the role of female characters in Dracula. Very interesting!
Paul


http://www.usask.ca/relst/jrpc/art6-dracula-print.html
"There never can be a man so lost as one who is lost in the vast and intricate corridors of his own lonely mind, where none may reach and none may save..." – Isaac Asimov, Pebble in the Sky
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Peppermill
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Re: Coppola's "Bram Stoker's Dracula"


paulgoatallen wrote: This may be kind of scholarly for this thread but there is an excellent link from the University of Saskatchewan about Christian myth and the role of female characters in Dracula. Very interesting!
Paul

http://www.usask.ca/relst/jrpc/art6-dracula-print.html

Paul -- thanks for the link!

Here's a clip about the author:

Stephenson Humphries-Brooks
http://stephensonhumphriesbrooks.cgpublisher.com/
"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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PatienceP
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Re:Female Characters in Dracula (again)

Thanks for the reference. I can handle scholarly works. :smileyhappy:
Interesting that Coppola added grey to Dracula, but took it from Lucy and Mina...
I think that Coppola precisely inverts what Lucy was intended to be, if that analysis of his film is correct. Lucy attracts admirers, not because she's trying to ensnare men, but because she's (as a human) pure as the virgin snow and all the men find that attractive. (Or if she isn't, no one dares admit it!) Her awakened vampire self does look and maybe act like a slut, but everyone can see the difference.
Mina ceases to be virginal when she marries Jonathan. I think this affects her behavior. When she stayed with Lucy, she was more like her--that's when the jabs against New Women were written. When she marries Jonathan, knowing that he's recovering from a nervous breakdown, she becomes more assertive to protect him. The loops of protection (since he's trying to protect her as well) and of empathy are amusing but not unattractive.
* * * * *

Sadness isn't sadness
It's happiness
In a black jacket

--Paul McCartney
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chad
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Prostitution: the world's oldest profession

[ Edited ]
Well, The coffins and the homes scattered about London could be representative of a prostitution ring gone horribly wrong, with Dracula as the pimp, creating vampirettes which roamed about London. Obviously such rings supported the business and commerce of London, but I believe they were illegal and still are. New values or the modernization of women was needed for continued survival of free commerce. A new "survival of the fittest" or free market world was emerging- a world in which Dracula used to his advantage. Past values or old mores have a way of being reinvigorated- harems were a middle eastern concept and the soil from the "east" was scattered about the streets of London. So, new "past" practices and values were needed to produce a new "contemporary."

Chad

So, do you think the dark side is taking over the world or the light side? Whatever, the case, the earth asserts (his/her?) own independence with plate tectonics. East eventually meets west.

Message Edited by chad on 11-13-2007 04:23 PM
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chad
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Re: Prostitution: the world's oldest profession: illegal?

It looks like Britain compromises on prostitution, the legality is questionable- a combination of the dark and light sides, or east/west values, leading to a new contemporary.

Thanks!
Chad

PS- I'm not saying the modern woman is a prostitute. Obviously, there are new sexual values today compared to Victorian values.
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Peppermill
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Re: Gender in Dracula

Came across this while researching for Middlemarch.

Only an abstract, but some still stopping by this board may find it interesting. (ND -- Notre Dame)

Dracula, Sexology and the New Woman
By Cassandra Meyer
http://english.nd.edu/undergraduate/honors/abstracts-2005/
Honors Concentration Abstracts 2005
"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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chad
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Re: Gender in Dracula: the modern woman

I saw the concept of the "modern woman" as something fabricated. That is, it didn't matter whether the modern woman was a sexy, vampire-like woman or a pious, dutiful woman that can compete with men in the workplace, the modern woman was a concept coming from contemporary times influenced by religion, goverments, entrepreneurs or even Dracula himself. Both Mina and Lucy have difficulty accepting the influence of the "new" modern woman and have difficulty asserting their own "will" or individuality.

Chad
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